At 5:14 a.m. EDT this morning (09:14 GMT), the slow northward migration of the Sun reached its peak. As a result, daylight hours are maximized, and the hours of darkness are minimized for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. For those south of the equator, the opposite is true. In the north, we call the June solstice our summer solstice, and in the south half of our planet, it’s known as the winter solstice. So what does the solstice confirm?
In truth, the Sun has not been migrating north since December 21. It just looks that way. At a precise time this morning, the Sun appears to begin its trek southward, and daylight will be a little shorter each day. In North America, we think of this as the first day of summer, but people in Scandanavian countries call it midsummer. In Sweden, Norway, Finland, and other countries many people celebrate June 24 as Midsummer’s Day.
People living north of the Arctic circle will experience the “midnight sun” today. However, south of the Antarctic circle, it will be 24 hours of darkness. This is because of the 23.5-degree tilt of Earth’s axis relative to its orbit around the Sun. That is why we have seasons and the explanation of today’s solstice. But what does the solstice confirm?
Earth’s tilt is no accident. God planned it that way for good reason. (See Genesis 1:14.) As we have explained before, the hot sunshine would constantly beat down on the equator without the Earth’s tilt, making it inhospitable for life and leaving the northern and southern latitudes too cold. The lack of seasonal change would negatively affect life in many ways.
So, what does the solstice confirm? It is one more confirmation of design. We often overlook the well-designed features of this planet that make advanced life possible. Considering even a few of them, we have to say it didn’t happen by chance. When we realize all of Earth’s precision design features, we must admit that the best explanation is an intelligent Designer.
It’s the final full moon of spring 2022, and people call it the strawberry supermoon. The name “strawberry moon” dates back to colonial times and perhaps native Americans. It has nothing to do with the Moon’s color but the fact that the last of spring or first of summer full moon comes when strawberries are ripening. This year, it’s a supermoon because it comes when the Moon is closest to Earth.
Our Moon has a slightly elliptical orbit, bringing it closer or farther away during the year. On average, it is about 30 Earth diameters away, and the distance varies by about one Earth diameter. That is just enough to make the size difference barely noticeable. The point when the Moon is closest to Earth is called perigee, and today it just happens to be 222,238 miles (357,658 km). That isn’t maximum perigee, but it is close enough to earn the title strawberry supermoon.
No matter what anyone tells you, the Moon is not about to crash into the Earth. In fact, it is gradually moving away from Earth at about 3.8 cm per year. At that rate, you don’t have to worry about the Moon flying off into space in your lifetime. Also, despite rumors to the contrary, you don’t have to worry about the full moon making you crazy or increasing psychiatric traumas, murders, or other crimes. Since criminals like the cover of darkness, perhaps the extra light at night might discourage nefarious activity, but I haven’t seen any statistics on that. Everyone knows that the gravity of the Moon is the main cause of ocean tides, but the slight difference in gravity from supermoons makes a negligible difference.
The strawberry supermoon peaked at 7:51 a.m. EDT (1151 GMT) on Tuesday morning, June 14, but you may not have been able to see it then. It will still look almost full tonight, so as you admire it, thank God for our wonderful Moon. It won’t crash into Earth, make you crazy, or cause an increase in crimes. However, our Moon does have many life-supporting functions, as we have discussed before. Below are links to some of our previous postings.
Why is there something rather than nothing? Most scientists today agree that the universe had a beginning. They disagree on how it began, but they largely accept the idea that it began to exist. However, another question many ask is, “Why does anything exist?” If there was nothing before the universe began, why are we here?
If nothing existed before the universe began, it is difficult to explain why there is anything at all. Some scientists have tried redefining “nothing” to make it “something.” Sometimes they suggest that something is gravity. So, if gravity existed before there was anything, where did the gravity come from? What they are doing is to substitute gravity for God, but how can there be gravity without mass?
Isaac Newton described gravity as the attraction between objects that have mass. The more mass, the more gravity pulls them together. That was the accepted theory until Einstein devised a new idea. His theory defined gravity as a curvature in space-time, which is the accepted concept today. But, according to scientists, the cosmic creation event (usually referred to as the big bang) was also the beginning of space and time. So, where does gravity come from if there is no space-time or matter-energy? That still does not answer the question, “Why does anything exist?”
Of course, if science says that gravity existed before anything else, atheists argue that it is no different from saying that God existed before anything else. Who or what made God? Everything that begins to exist must indeed have a cause. However, God is eternal. He did not begin to exist. God is the first cause, the unmade Maker, the necessarily existing uncaused Being. If God created time and space, He is outside of time and space. God existed before time, but even using the term “before” shows that we are limited to thinking in time terms. There is no before or after with God. He knows the future because He can see the entire timeline of the cosmos, viewing it from the outside.
So back to our original question, “Why does anything exist?” We can say that everything exists because God exists. God chose to create this fine-tuned universe of space, time, matter, and energy. Since God is outside of time, He can hear the prayers of millions of people all over the world at the same time. There I go using that “time” word again. We can’t think outside of time because we can’t live outside of time. If we could, for just a moment (another time word), step outside of history’s timeline and see it from God’s perspective, we could understand why God allows things to happen. We could understand the things that make us ask, “Why doesn’t God stop that from happening?” We could see the conclusion of all things. We would know that because of God’s wisdom, justice, and love, the conclusion is good.
What is the optimum size for a planet to form a just-right moon? According to a new study, the short answer to that question is, “Just about the size of planet Earth.” Is that another coincidence or a matter of design? First, let’s consider the planet-moon size ratio.
The radius of the Moon is a little more than one-fourth of Earth’s radius. That four-to-one ratio is unlike any other planet-moon size ratio in our solar system. The solar system’s largest moon is Ganymede which orbits Jupiter. It is one-third larger than our Moon, but Jupiter is more than 11 times the diameter of Earth. The essential factor is that our Moon is larger in relation to the size of the planet it orbits than any other moon in the solar system.
Scientists believe that our Moon was formed when a planet the size of Mars collided with the early Earth. The heat caused by the collision vaporized the material, which eventually congealed to form the Moon and planet Earth. (See Genesis 1:1-2.) The angle of that collision was precisely fine-tuned to result in a planet and moon with the exact size ratio for the Moon to control Earth’s tilt, rotation speed, and ocean tides, as well as perfectly covering the Sun during a total solar eclipse.
To suggest that the creation of a planet perfect for advanced life could have been an accident requires that you have a lot of faith in chance. But a new study by researchers from the University of Rochester in New York adds even more evidence for design. They found that a planet more than 1.3 to 1.6 times Earth’s size could not form a moon that would have the “life-enabling effects” that our Moon has.
Computer modeling shows that if larger planets collided, the energy of the impact would vaporize the material, but a stabilizing moon could not form. The vaporized material would cause drag on the planet, slowing it down so much that gravity would cause any material that congealed to crash into the planet. Not only is the planet-moon size ratio essential, but so also is the size of the colliding bodies.
Numerous factors beyond the planet-moon size ratio must be just right for a functional, life-supporting planet to form. Our planet meets every one of those requirements, and so far, astronomers have not found any other planet that does. The Bible does not tell us whether God chose to create life on another suitable planet anywhere in the universe. However, scientists will never stop looking for it. In the meantime, they keep finding factors that show evidence of intelligent design everywhere in the universe.
Perhaps you saw the total lunar eclipse last night, or maybe it was only umbral (partial) in your area. Either way, it reminds us of God’s intricate design that allows advanced life on this planet. As you watched the Moon, you may have seen it close to the horizon or high in the sky. Why does the Moon look larger near the horizon? Is it really larger, or are your senses being fooled?
Here is a simple experiment you can do with a camera or smartphone. Take a picture of the Moon when it rises and then take another picture of it high in the sky on the same night. Now compare the Moon’s size in the two pictures. You will see that the Moon is the same size. Better yet, stretch out your arm and compare the Moon’s size to your thumb at the two positions on the same night.
If you are thinking that the Moon looks larger at the horizon because it is farther away at that time, that is clearly not the case. The Moon’s distance, and therefore apparent size, does vary somewhat throughout the year, but not on the same night. The difference in apparent size when the Moon is closest to Earth and farthest away is only about 7%. The human eye can barely detect that difference.
So why does the Moon look larger near the horizon? First, realize that it is not our eyes but the human brain that does the seeing. When the Moon is near the horizon, we compare it to distant trees and buildings that we know are large, so we think the Moon looks larger. However, when it is in the middle of the vast, open sky, the Moon seems small by comparison.
We interpret what we see based on previous experiences and prejudices. That means our brain interprets new information filtered through those prejudices. That brings up another question. How does the human mind interpret other areas of understanding, such as the existence of God? Are there filters in your line of sight that can block you from seeing the truth?
This Sunday night, May 15-16, 2022, a total lunar eclipse will be visible in the Western Hemisphere. It will be the only lunar eclipse visible in North America in 2022. The totality will be visible in the eastern United States and Canada and all of Central and South America. It will also be visible in Antarctica, but most of the population seeing it there will be penguins. The partial, or penumbral, eclipse will be visible in the western U.S. and Canada as well as Africa, Europe, and other areas. To find out exactly if or when you can see it in your area, go to TimeandDate.com.
Lunar eclipses occur at the time of the full moon. People commonly call May’s full moon the Flower Moon since it’s the time of year when many flowers are blooming in the Northern Hemisphere. Full moons occur approximately once per month when Earth is between the Moon and the Sun. A couple of times per year, the alignment is so precise that the Moon falls within Earth’s shadow, creating an eclipse. That will happen only one more time this year, on November 8, which also happens to be election day in the United States. However, the November eclipse of the Moon is no omen for the elections, and it won’t even be visible in the United States.
A total lunar eclipse, often called a “blood moon” because of its color, is not an omen of anything, despite what some false prophets may suggest. It is a natural function of the solar system God created for us. We can know precisely when eclipses of the Sun and Moon will occur because our solar system is not chaotic. Our Creator gave us an orderly, life-sustaining system in which to live and carry out His plan. With that in mind, enjoy the only lunar eclipse visible in North America in 2022. Let it be a reminder of God’s creative wisdom and His love. (See Genesis 1:16 and Psalms 72:5-7.)
We have pointed out that recent reports from NASA reveal that astronomers have found more than 5000 planets orbiting stars other than our Sun. These extra-solar planets show that our solar system is a rarity in space. The unique design of our solar system strongly supports the idea that it is a product of intelligent creation, not a cosmic accident.
One might suggest that having a life-bearing planet is like trying to shoot something. If you shoot enough times, you will eventually hit the target. So likewise, if we find enough planets outside of our solar system, we will ultimately find one like Earth that can support life and even beings like ourselves. However, recent discoveries show that our solar system is so unique that it cannot be a chance production.
One discovery from the observation of exoplanets is the uniqueness of having a rocky planet orbiting this far from a star. In a study of 169 detected and confirmed rocky planets orbiting nuclear burning stars, more than 90% of them orbit their stars ten times more closely than Earth orbits the Sun. Being closer to their stars would mean that the lighter elements in those planets would be burned away, so those planets should be denser than our rocky planets. However, the data shows the exoplanets have a density of 4.472 grams/cc, while Mercury, Venus, and Earth are 5.395 grams/cc. What does this fact suggest?
The starting point for interpreting this data is the Sun. It has a very unusual lack of refractory elements (those elements which boil easily). That is especially true of lithium which is 170 times lower in abundance in the Sun than in the rest of the solar system. Scientists have advanced various theories about why that is, but it means that the Sun’s flaring activity is at a very low level compared with similar stars. Thus the Sun has an exceptionally low level of harmful ultraviolet and X-ray radiation.
As we look at rocky extra-solar planets orbiting other stars, we see they are very close to their stars. Since the stars would burn off the light elements with low boiling temperatures, we would expect to see rocky material left behind. The fact that our Sun has rocky planets that are farther away is because of the Sun’s unusually low levels of refractory elements and low levels of ultraviolet and X-ray radiation.
Other factors about exoplanet systems demonstrate the unique design of our solar system. For example, Earth’s chemical composition is unique. The extra-solar planets scientists have studied do not have the chemicals needed in the amounts required for advanced life forms to exist. Also, our Moon plays an essential role in the system that allows Earth to retain its atmosphere and hydrosphere.
With more data from astronomers studying extra-solar planets, it becomes increasingly clear that our Sun and our solar system are not typical products of accidental chances in space. The number of parameters that our unique solar system possesses speak of design. The unique design of our solar system shows that God’s creative hand has done much more than we imagined. This shows the truth of the old cliche that “the more we know of the creation, the more we appreciate the role of the Creator.”
As new space telescopes look out into the cosmos, astronomers discover more planets orbiting stars other than our Sun. NASA reports that known exoplanets number 5009. The process God used to create “heaven and earth” resulted in a lot of extra material in various forms throughout the cosmos. In 1999, astronomers discovered the first exoplanet, and since then, the number has kept growing.
At first glance, one might feel that since there are so many planets, some of them must be inhabited by sentient beings like ourselves. However, we find that is not the case when we examine the breakdown of the types of planets that astronomers have discovered. Even though known exoplanets number 5009, only 200 are worlds like Earth, made up of solid rock. The rest are gas planets like the Jovian planets Jupiter or Neptune, or they are huge solid planets with massive gravitational forces that would crush living beings. We should remind you that a world suitable for sentient life requires at least 47 other variables that we have listed in a chart you can see at THIS LINK.
When God “created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1), His methods involved forging massive amounts of gases and very few solid materials. Known exoplanets number 5009 now, but the number is sure to increase. Studies continue to show that our solar system and planet are unique. God’s wisdom in creating Earth the way He did becomes more evident as we explore space and realize how many resources we have available on this planet.
The “heavens declare the glory of God and the sky shows His handiwork” (Palms 19:1). We see more of His power and wisdom as our technology produces better images of the cosmos and how it was created in the beginning.
Space exploration presents many challenges, but the medical challenges of space travel may dwarf the technical challenges. Spending lengthy sojourns on the International Space Station (ISS) has already shown some of the problems that future space travelers will face.
One problem astronauts face is space anemia caused by a lack of red blood cells. On Earth, the human body makes two million red blood cells every second to replace the ones that are lost. In space, the astronauts’ bodies lose three million red blood cells each second, and they must replace those cells. Anemia results from a shortage of the red blood cells needed to carry oxygen to all parts of the body. It causes fatigue, dizziness, and weakness.
Space anemia was well-known, but scientists thought the body would adapt and correct the problem after an extended time in space. Unfortunately, a recent study of 13 astronauts has shown that it is not corrected after six months on the ISS. Furthermore, it took three to four months to restore a near-normal red blood count after the astronauts returned to Earth. There was still a thirty percent greater loss of red blood cells even after that.
A new study on cosmonauts in the ISS shows another area of concern. Scientists studied the brains of twelve cosmonauts just before and after their space flights and again seven months after they returned to Earth. They used computer reconstruction of data from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to study the structure (gray matter) and connectivity (white matter) in the brain. The research showed shape changes in the brain, especially in the corpus callosum, a large bundle of nerve fibers that connect the brain’s two hemispheres. In addition, researchers detected “changes in the neural connections between several motor areas of the brain.” But, perhaps, the most concerning is that in the brain scans taken seven months after the cosmonauts returned to Earth, the changes to the brain were still present.
A journey to Mars and back will take more than twenty months. During that space flight, astronauts will need protection from radiation, food for proper nourishment, and to replenish red blood cells while they experience “rewiring” of their brains. The many medical challenges of space travel remind us how blessed we are that God has given us the perfect planet to call home.
Astronomers are constantly looking for signs of life on other planets or moons. One of the potential clues they seek is methane, a hydrocarbon gas consisting of one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms. It is classified as a “greenhouse gas” because it can trap heat on Earth’s surface resulting in “global warming.” It’s a more effective greenhouse gas than the much-discussed carbon dioxide. Methane is produced by organic decomposition and in the digestion process of ruminants such as cows and other animals. Scientists seek to learn more about a possible connection between methane and life on other planets.
Since living things create methane, scientists regard it as a potential “biosignature” indicating life on an astronomical body. For that reason, astronomers are searching for methane on planetary bodies. News reports have sometimes gone overboard with stories about methane and life on other planets. However, not all methane is created biologically. Volcanic eruptions can release methane gas, and even asteroid impacts can add methane to a planet’s atmosphere. So how can scientists tell if the methane is a sign of life on a body far out in space?
For one thing, gasses from a volcano would contain not only methane but also carbon monoxide. The biological creation of methane would consume carbon monoxide. When examining the gasses in a planet’s atmosphere, a large amount of BOTH methane and carbon monoxide would probably indicate that the methane was not a biosignature. Methane alone would be a more likely indicator of the possibility of life.
However, an abundance of methane without carbon monoxide would not prove the existence of life on a planet. As we have said before, many factors are required to make a planet suitable for any kind of life, especially advanced life. NASA’s James Webb telescope, launched in December, is still working to reach full functionality. When it does, a significant part of its purpose will be to look for methane in the atmosphere of exoplanets.
When results indicate that the Webb telescope has detected methane on a planet, news reporters may sensationalize the facts to suggest more than they deserve. Reputable scientists are more cautious in their predictions about methane and life on other planets. Nevertheless, we are excited about the possibility of learning more about the universe with the new Webb space telescope.
As we have said before, the Bible doesn’t tell us if there is life on any other object in space. If there is, we believe that God put it there. We are not afraid of scientific investigation because the more we learn about the creation, the more we stand in awe of the Creator.